Call it common sense

Common sense is the non-trendy term for sustainability. In other words, what people call sustainability, we call it common sense.

It is interesting to analyse the notion of sustainability and when it came out, what kind of change it brought up, or what new necessity has awakened. The concept of sustainability was born around the end of the ’80s. Some individuals realised that intense exploitation endangered our planet and future generations’ lives.

Back to the past

If we dig deep into our traditions, we discover that what we call sustainability now was for our grandparents just their way of living. It was their intentional choice, determined by necessity and contingency. But also by being aware of the value of goods, an understanding that each object or garment had specific properties and purpose. Manufacturing offered durable products therefore, almost nothing was wasted. Moreover, for them, objects had a second life.
There was a shared sense of respect, and life didn’t revolve only around consumption.

That’s the education our parents received, but no slogan framed that simple way of life.

Then came the time when fascinated by the consumerist mindset, our parents gave up on their education. Neurotic habits replaced a thoughtful lifestyle. A new ego-centred vision in which we believe we can dispose of nature or people the same as we do with the things we buy. Everything is at our feet – consume and throw away.

We have lived as if nature’s resources were infinite, let’s be honest about it. A very few people questioned it in the past, not the CEOs of corporations for sure.

Sustainability or common sense?

Eventually, we realised that resources are finite, and the world in thirty years will be unlivable. So here comes the term sustainability, sold as the discovery of a new meaningful lifestyle (the one we forgot about).

Well, there’s nothing new. What you call sustainability is just common sense.

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The curve of understanding

How long does it take to open our eyes?

The case of plastic traces the curve of understanding by showing the conflict between convenience and value.
Plastic was invented in 1920. Around 1960 humans started using disposable plastic profusely. One of the greatest inventions ever. You could use cutlery, plates and cups and throw them away! Likewise, we could use plastic bags and toss them. Well, that’s what disposable means. It just got out of hand, or we didn’t realise that there’s a certain number of people inhabiting planet earth, and we aren’t so good at multiplication.

‘Buy – consume – toss’
The perfect innovation for everyday life, and no one considered any side effects. For about 50 years, at least. Till one day, we realised the oceans are full of disposable plastic. And that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans!

So, it took about 60 years to notice that single-use plastic was polluting oceans. Finally, the EU banned plastic in 2021, but the damage is done.
Sixty years to open our eyes. And even now that is known, people do not worry much about that.

Learning the lesson
Will it take us that long for technology too? Since we are kindly invited to change a device every year. Or for furniture? Which, of course, is cheap but made to self-destruct within the shortest time possible.
Or for clothing, because ‘the industry of cheap’ is flourishing! People want more! ‘And who cares if I wear it for less than a season? I’ll throw it away!’

How can a different approach resonate in a world made of beautiful facades or people who don’t care?

It will resonate with a tiny niche of active thinkers who want to make the change. Because they care, they can make a difference.


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